Why organizational cliques are associated with better performance in service delivery networks has yet to be explained. Certain properties of cliques may account for improved performance including the composition of clique members and the quality of their relationships.
The aim of this study is to offer insight into how organizations working through cliques improve network performance by exploring the complementarity of services provided by clique members and testing two hypotheses about trust and perceived benefits among clique members.
Survey and archival data were collected from a regional network of 36 nonprofit children’s mental health agencies that belong to a coalition. First, clique analyses and network visualization were used to identify cohesive subgroups. Second, the complementarity of services provided by the groups was explored by calculating scores for each group to reflect the level of differentiation in services and client population as reported in archival data. Third, ANOVA density models were used to test whether clique relationships are characterized by higher perceived trust and benefits compared with nonclique member relationships.
Three groups were identified. These groups provide complementary services to similar client populations. Trust within all three cliques was higher than nonclique member relationships. Members of all three cliques perceived greater efficiency, and two of the three cliques also perceived greater access to care and service quality.
Results support selecting clique partners based on service mix. To gain organizational benefits and improve network performance, partners should offer distinct services relative to one another but to similar clients.